SP 1: Europeanization of higher education: Between global knowledge society and national traditions

Second Project phase

The opening of national, hierarchically structured academic fields goes hand in hand with an Europeanization of academic capitalism: The inequality in terms of researchers, disciplines and universities is increasingly subjected to heightened competition. The institutionalization on a European level accounts for few, though globally visible winners. The theoretical surplus of the research project so far is mainly rooted in a transnational conception of the academic field within the field of power, enabling a both horizontal and comparative perspective on specific national features. This perspective allows for a deeper understanding of the process of the symbolic construction of the European research area (ERA). By analyzing the interplay between national opening and European closure, several findings were gained: On the micro- and meso levels, in particular, a variety of transnational strategies concerning career, third-party funding and respective cooperation have developed, indicating an academic modus operandi that becomes increasingly Europeanized. However, the genesis of an ERA also involves potential conflicts: Based on our current results, further analysis needs to focus especially on transnational academic migration, effects of "brain-drain" and the emergence of a European academic elite.


First Project phase

Europeanization of Higher Education

Within the competition for scientific and technological progress, and economic dynamics of innovation in the global knowledge economy, a new European Higher Education Area, has emerged. It gave rise to new forms of competition between universities and still radiates into national contexts. The most successful colleges in Europe wrestle for the power to define valid criteria for excellence in education and research with and within networks of experts and political actors. Additionally conflicts erupt between Europeanization winners and losers within national fields. As part of this process, material and symbolic inequalities in national higher education areas exacerbate, while differences across Europe are decreasing. The project examines how opening and closing processes at these two levels over time as well as in a national and multi-level comparison. It observes how new alliances and conflict lines are created and shape national and European higher education facilities and the university as an institution in material and symbolic terms. National dynamics are traced in Germany, the UK and Sweden, while at the same time corresponding analyzes of the European Higher Education Area illuminate the transnational context of national change.